Nestled along the Emerald Coast of the Sunshine State, the top beaches in Destin Florida offer something special for every kind of beachgoer.
Destin Florida beaches are known for their emerald green waters and sugar white sand that stretch for miles on end, and some of them top the charts for best beaches in the USA!
The best part about Destin beaches is that everything you need is nearby — fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, and plenty of other fun activities await!
Whether you’re looking to relax on a secluded beach with family or party hard on the bustling shores of Okaloosa Island, the beaches in Destin have it all!
We’ve been frolicking on Destin Fl beaches for years, and we’re here to share some of the best beaches you won’t want to miss during your trip.
Here are the best beaches in Destin Florida, plus a few more beaches nearby you’ll also want to check out!
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In This Post:
Map of the Top Beaches in Destin Florida & Nearby
Here’s a handy map to help you visualize the top beaches in Destin Florida and nearby that you won’t want to miss.
Click on the map to enlarge it so you can take a better look at each beach and get ready to go on a beach-hopping adventure.
11 Best Destin Florida Beaches
Hold onto your sun hats because we’re about to unveil the top beaches in Destin Florida!
The cherry on top? These 12 sandy slices of heaven are some of the best beaches in the Florida Panhandle and are all a quick and easy 30-minute drive (or less) from town, so you can spend less time in the car and more time soaking up the sun.
1. Miramar Beach
Address: There are several public beach access points in Miramar Beach, but the best ones are Miramar Beach Regional Access (2396 Scenic Highway 98), Public Access #49 at Pompano Joe’s (2375 Scenic Gulf Drive), and Public Beach Access Geronimo (735 Scenic Highway 98).
Wedged between Destin and Santa Rosa Beach, Miramar Beach is one of the best small beach towns in Florida.
Miramar Beach is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is part of the larger area known as South Walton.
It’s a quick 15-minute drive east from Destin, and the beaches here are one-of-a-kind with crystal clear water.
The soft, powdery sand feels like silk beneath your toes, and the water is so clear that you can see schools of tropical fish and other marine life swimming below the surface.
You might even spot some dolphins playing in the distance if you’re lucky!
You can rent beach chairs and umbrellas and spend the day lounging beneath the sun, feel the wind in your hair as you zip across the waves on a jet ski, or get a bird’s eye view of the coastline as you soar above the water while parasailing.
Miramar Beach truly has it all, from gorgeous beaches, thrilling activities, delicious seafood, and unbeatable scenery.
2. Henderson Beach State Park
Address: 17000 Emerald Coast Parkway, Destin, FL 32541
Henderson Beach State Park is one of the top beaches in Destin Florida, and you’ll see for yourself why once you get there.
After walking on the boardwalk and down the wooden steps, you’ll be rewarded with white sand stretching for miles on end and sparkling turquoise waters so clear that you can see straight to the bottom of the sea.
One of the highlights of Henderson Beach State Park is its gorgeous natural beauty, home to two distinct ecosystems — dramatic 30-foot sand dunes and the maritime forest, which are just a few steps away from the shoreline.
You can enjoy some fishing, find your sea legs while kayaking or canoeing, enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the many pavilions, hike along the trails and explore the park, or just relax underneath a beach umbrella and watch the waves roll in.
If you’re lucky to snag one of the 60 campsites, you can also spend the night and wake up to the sound of crashing waves.
The park is open from 8 am until sunset every day, so you have plenty of time to explore everything this beach has to offer.
3. James Lee Beach
Address: 3510 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL 32541
Situated in James Lee Park, two miles south of Destin Commons, James Lee Beach is one of the top beaches in Destin Florida.
Locals know James Lee Beach as Crab Trap Beach because it’s right around the corner from the infamous seafood restaurant, “The Crab Trap.”
This hidden gem beach boasts soft white sand, crystal-clear blue water, and excellent views of the emerald-green coast.
The waves here are usually gentle and calm and are perfect for swimming, body boarding, and paddle boarding, and because of the shallow waters along the shoreline and lack of crowds, it’s an ideal spot for families with kids.
With 166 free parking spaces and a range of additional amenities, including pavilions with shade, picnic tables, showers, restrooms, and even an onsite playground for kids, James Lee Beach is the perfect destination to create unforgettable memories!
Soak up the sun, listen to the waves crashing against the shoreline, and feel your worries melt away at James Lee Beach.
4. Crab Island
Address: There isn’t an address for Crab Island, but it’s located just south of the Marler Bridge in Destin.
If you’re looking for a unique and exciting beach experience in Destin, look no further than Crab Island!
Crab Island is an underwater sandbar, and during low tide, it becomes a small and shallow island paradise that’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
On average, the water is 2-3 feet high, and even at high tide, it’s still shallow enough to stand and wade in the clear, warm water.
Because of its location, Crab Island is only accessible by boat, but you don’t have to worry about getting there because there are several companies that offer boat tours and rentals.
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Once you reach Crab Island, you can get off the boat and swim around with schools of fish or float on a raft while soaking up the sun.
What really sets Crab Island apart is its lively party atmosphere, with live music booming from the boats and food vendors serving up delicious treats and cocktails.
Let us tell you — it’s one of the coolest Destin Florida beaches we’ve been to, and it’s a great place to soak up the rays!
Be sure to check out our in-depth guide about Crab Island, which discusses everything you need to know about visiting and helpful tips.
👇 Experience Crab Island like never before with these top boat tours!
5. Crystal Sands Beach
Address: 3290 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL 32541
The name says it all — Crystal Sands Beach is one of the top beaches in Destin Florida, thanks to its shimmering crystal-clear waters and sugar-white sand.
You’ll feel like you’re in the Bahamas as soon as you step foot on the beach, where you can relax and enjoy the stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Crystal Sands Beach carries a low profile, and most beachgoers are from the condos and houses in the neighborhood behind it, so you won’t have to worry about overcrowding.
As such, parking here is very limited, but you can walk over from James Lee Beach Park if you can’t find a parking spot.
When you leave Crystal Beach, you’ll wonder whether you were in the Caribbean or Florida!
6. Princess Beach
Address: There isn’t an address for Princess Beach, but it’s one mile west of Eglin Beach Park, right off Miracle Strip Pkwy SE.
Sometimes the top public beaches in Destin Florida can be crowded and loud, which can make it difficult to find a peaceful spot.
But if you’re looking for a tranquil beach experience, head to the secluded Princess Beach.
This small but beautiful beach is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Destin’s main tourist spots and offers stunning views of the Emerald Coast without all the noise and crowds.
Since Princess Beach is small, you won’t find amenities here like restrooms, water sports, lifeguards, or picnic areas, so it’s best to bring all the supplies you need for a beach day.
The entrance to Princess Beach is a little tricky to find, so be sure to keep an eye out for a small dirt turnoff near Eglin Matterhorn Beach.
7. Eglin Matterhorn Beach
Address: There isn’t an address for Eglin Matterhorn Beach, but it’s 0.5 miles west of Princess Beach off Miracle Strip Pkwy SE.
Tranquil and secluded, Eglin Matterhorn Beach offers an idyllic beach experience that’s sure to make your trip to Destin worth remembering.
You’ll love the fact that there aren’t any condos, vendors, loud music, or crowds here, and you’ll only be surrounded by sand dunes and the ocean rather than buildings and busy streets.
When you get there, all you’ll see is the beach — lots and lots of beach, which makes it the perfect spot for a peaceful, long walk along the shore.
Remember to bring everything you need with you because Eglin Matterhorn Beach doesn’t have any facilities, and keep in mind that the walk from the parking lot to the shoreline is rather long.
But when you reach the shoreline, you’ll be rewarded with a jaw-dropping view of the Emerald Coast and its crystal-clear waters.
Also, don’t confuse Eglin Matterhorn Beach with Eglin Beach Park, which is located five miles east of Eglin Matterhorn Beach.
Eglin Beach Park is a private beach that’s protected by the Department of Defense and is only available for use for active duty military personnel, veterans, and federal employees with proper identification.
8. John Beasley Park
Address: 1550 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548
John Beasley Park is another one of those Destin Florida beaches that’s remarkably quiet and peaceful.
This beach park is the definition of pure bliss, boasting tranquil waters and plenty of white sand for hanging out in the sun.
At John Beasley Park, you’ll find amenities like restrooms, showers, picnic tables, change rooms, and a little over 200 free parking spots, which makes it a great choice for families.
Best of all, the beach is conveniently located near shops, restaurants, bars, Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, HarborWalk Village, Destin Harbor Boardwalk, and Okaloosa Island Pier, so there’s plenty to do in the area if you want a break from the beach.
9. Norriego Point
Address: There isn’t an address for Norriego Point, but it’s located at the end of Gulf Shore Drive on Holiday Isle.
Of all the top beaches in Destin Florida, Norriego Point is perhaps the most beautiful and unique, and for good reason!
The beach is tucked away in a seaside enclave called Holiday Isle, so the water temperature is warm and calm.
Norriego Point is unique because it’s not located directly on the Gulf of Mexico.
Instead, it’s a peninsula on Holiday Isle with Destin Harbor on one side and East Pass on the other, which leads out to the Gulf of Mexico.
Because of its location, Norriego Point is known for its crystal-clear emerald waters, white powdery sand, and stunning sunsets — perfect for a romantic evening or just to take in the beauty of nature.
Aside from its beautiful natural scenery, Norriego Point offers incredible snorkeling opportunities, and its waters are known for being some of the clearest you’ll find in Destin.
10. June White Decker Park
Address: 1950 Scenic Hwy 98, Destin, FL 32541
June White Decker Park is one of the smaller Destin beaches offering only 1000 feet or so of beachfront.
But what it lacks in size, it makes up for with its clear green waters and its pillowy soft sand.
The only downfall to visiting June White Decker Park is that it can get crowded because it’s located right off of Scenic Hwy 98, and it neighbors hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and condos.
Because of its location and size, it’s best to visit this beach park in the early mornings or around sunset when the beach is less crowded.
Even though June White Decker Park is small, you’ll find several amenities here, such as bathrooms and showers.
And it’s conveniently located near Henderson Beach State Park and has remarkable restaurants like The Back Porch and Destin Diner.
11. Okaloosa Island
Address: Okaloosa Island Beach Access Four at the Jerry Melvin Beachwalk is located at 600 Santa Rosa Blvd, Okaloosa Island, FL 32548.
Okaloosa Island is located on Santa Rosa Island just west of Destin and flaunts three miles of white sand beaches and impressive dune walkovers perfect for beach bums.
It’s a barrier island connecting Destin to Fort Walton Beach, and several beach access points are along this narrow strip of land.
In addition to its beautiful beaches, Okaloosa Island is home to the Okaloosa Island Boardwalk and the Okaloosa Island Pier.
The Boardwalk resembles an outdoor mall with candy shops, bathrooms, restaurants, and volleyball courts, while the 1262-foot pier sells bait, fishing licenses, and everything an avid fisherman needs for a successful day of fishing.
Some of the best beach spots on Okaloosa Island are Wayside Park, Santa Rosa Beach Park, Ross Marler Park, and Princess Beach.
6 Best Beaches Near Destin Florida
Now that we’ve explored the top beaches in Destin Florida, we thought it would be a great idea to introduce you to a few of the best beaches located within an hour’s drive from Destin.
These beach gems will surely offer a memorable experience if you’re looking for adventure beyond Destin’s top beaches.
1. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Address: 7525 W County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is located around 30 minutes away from Destin (longer if the traffic is bad), and it’s known for its impressive coastal dunes soaring over 25 feet tall, scenic nature trails, and top-notch beaches.
Here, you’ll find 3.2 miles of undeveloped pristine white-sand beaches and beautiful green water, but the best part is that there are hardly any people here.
It’s one of the most serene beaches in the Destin area because you need to walk or bike the almost one-mile trail to get to the beach, making it a top choice for beachgoers who crave peace and quiet.
If you’re not keen on walking the trail, you can take the tram that runs every two hours.
What’s unique about Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is that it’s home to three coastal dune lakes where you can partake in incredible freshwater fishing.
There are also 150+ campsites here and 150+ RV hookups along with bungalows and cabins, so if you plan on spending more time in the area, this is a great spot to set up your tent and stay for the night or weekend.
2. Dune Allen Beach
Address: There isn’t an address for Dune Allen Beach, but the best way to get there is to put the address for Stinky’s Fish Camp Restaurant in your GPS.
Dune Allen Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches near Destin and is a haven for locals and visitors alike.
Lucky for you, getting to Dune Allen Beach is now easier than ever because an access point was added across the street from Stinky’s Fish Camp Restaurant.
At Dune Allen Beach, you can enjoy a day of swimming and lounging on its white-sand beaches or partake in activities such as fishing and kayaking.
The beach also has amenities such as an outdoor shower, public restrooms, changing rooms, dune boardwalks, and plenty of parking.
Trust us — you’ll want to stay until sunset because the golden hour here is out of this world, and you might even spot a pod of dolphins if you’re lucky.
3. Blue Mountain Beach
Address: 475 Blue Mountain Rd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
Mountains in Florida? Yeah, that’s definitely not a thing.
But we can promise that Blue Mountain Beach has some of the best topography in Northwest Florida.
The natural landscapes have somehow morphed together, creating a giant mound-like mountain that shoots 65 feet in the air with blue lupine flowers blooming across the top — hence the name.
Blue Mountain Beach is also one of the top beaches in Destin Florida, because it’s home to some of its whitest sand, crystal-blue waters, and a plethora of restaurants and cafes you can visit once you’re done soaking up some sunshine.
The beach is equipped with all your basic amenities, like a parking area, outdoor showers, bike racks, and public restrooms.
After a long day of soaking up Vitamin D, cool off with some delicious ice cream at Blue Mountain Creamery or indulge in the blackened shrimp tacos at Red Fish Taco.
4. Navarre Main Beach
Address: 8739 Gulf Blvd, Navarre, FL 32566
Known for having some of the clearest water in Florida, Navarre Beach is one of the best beaches in Destin Florida.
The Navarre Beach area has become a top destination for families because it’s home to a wide range of activities on the beach and around the town of Navarre.
When it comes to the beach, you can rent jet skis, try surfing, go paddleboarding, and so much more, and you’ll feel like you have the beach to yourself because it’s not as crowded as Pensacola Beach and Panama City Beach.
The best part? Navarre Beach has a pier you can visit, but it’s not just any old pier — this is the longest fishing pier in Florida, so you can cast your line and try to catch dinner for your family!
The beach is also well equipped with amenities like public restrooms, outdoor showers, wheelchair-accessible boardwalks, picnic pavilions, and plenty of parking spaces.
5. Grayton Beach State Park
Address: 357 Main Park Rd, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
The crystal-blue waters, sugary white sand, and natural landscapes make it feel like you’ve stumbled upon an oasis in the desert.
The beach has all your basic amenities, like outdoor showers, public restrooms, and a parking lot.
But what really sets Grayton Beach State Park apart from other top beaches in Destin Florida is that you can also camp here while taking in all the gorgeous views!
Visiting Grayton Beach State Park is one of the best things to do in Seaside Florida because this 2000-acre park offers numerous activities such as fishing, swimming, snorkeling around the Sea Turtle Reef (located 783 feet from the shore and consists of 58 reefs in the shape of green sea turtles), kayaking, hiking around the trails, birdwatching, and much more.
6. Camp Helen State Park
Address: 23937 Panama City Beach Pkwy, Panama City Beach, FL 32413
Camp Helen State Park is undoubtedly the most underrated beach on this list of the best Destin beaches and is well worth a visit!
Nestled between Panama City Beach and Destin, Camp Helen State Park is a 180-acre coastal preserve with miles of white sand beaches and dunes that the state government protects.
The park is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Powell, making it one of the best places in the state for nature lovers, fans of fishing, and watersports enthusiasts.
The beach has all your basic amenities — public restrooms, outdoor showers, and a parking lot.
Camp Helen also offers visitors the opportunity to explore its ancient dunes, explore archaeological sites (like a prehistoric Indian mound), or take a stroll along the nature trails that wind through its lush forests.
FAQ for Visiting the Top Beaches in Destin Florida
What is the prettiest beach in Destin Florida?
Henderson Beach State Park is arguably the prettiest beach in Destin, Florida. It’s hard to beat the picturesque sugar-white sand, turquoise waters, and sunny skies!
What is the number 1 beach in Destin Florida?
Once again, Henderson Beach State Park is top of the list! Not only is the beach beautiful, but it’s also home to some of the most accessible recreational activities in Destin.
Which beach in Destin has the clearest water?
Norriego Point Beach has some of the clearest water in Destin due to its prime location on Choctawhatchee Bay. Thanks to the natural filtration of sediment runoff by Choctawhatchee Bay, the water is pristine and crystal clear when it reaches its final destination in the Gulf of Mexico.
Does Destin have the best beaches?
Yes, Destin is home to some of the best beaches in all of Florida and the United States because of its beautiful crystal-blue waters and sugary white sand. Regardless of where you decide to go, one thing is certain — a visit to the top beaches in Destin Florida will be an unforgettable experience.
Which Destin beach is not crowded?
The least crowded beaches in Destin are on Okaloosa Island, but the Florida Panhandle is becoming a popular spot for vacations year after year. If you want ultimate seclusion, Navarre Beach is the perfect place for just that because it’s located 25 miles west of Destin and offers miles of pristine shoreline.
At what time is the water clearest in Destin?
The time of year when the water is clearest in Destin is typically from fall through spring. June Grass, an algal bloom, is a common occurrence during the summer months in Destin, making the water less clear than usual. But don’t let that deter you from visiting during the summer months — there’s still plenty of fun to be had!
Why is Destin beach water so blue?
The beaches in Destin are so beautiful because they’re nestled along the Emerald Coast, which runs along the Florida Panhandle. This abundance of emerald green bays combined with the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico creates a stunning shade of blue and emerald that is unique to Destin!
What is a cute beach town near Destin?
There are so many cute small beach towns in Florida, and some of the best near Destin include Seaside, Alys Beach, and Rosemary Beach. All three towns feature stunning white sand beaches, unique boutiques, delicious restaurants, and a laid-back atmosphere that make for the perfect beach getaway!
What month is best for Destin?
Destin is a popular destination year-round, but the best time to visit is typically from April through early June. During these months, the weather is perfect, the beaches are less crowded than in July and August, and spring break will be over by then. Peak season is deeper in the summer months, which means more crowds and expensive hotel prices.
Final Thoughts About the Top Beaches in Destin Florida
The top beaches in Destin Florida are among the best in the country — and for a good reason!
With its pristine white sand, crystal-clear and calm waters, and abundance of recreational activities, Destin will surely provide the ultimate beach getaway on the Gulf Coast of Florida!
Whether you’re looking to relax on a pristine beach or take part in exciting water sports activities, there’s sure to be a perfect spot in Destin just waiting for you!
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Disha Smith is the founder of Disha Discovers. She quit her job in 2017 to travel the world to explore new cultures and experience new adventures. She has since been to 95+ countries and counting and has lived in South Africa, Thailand, Croatia, and Australia. She has done all kinds of travel ranging from luxury to budget backpacking, and her mission is to inspire others to discover their own sense of adventure and to help them plan a life full of meaningful experiences through travel.